Policy Performance


Economic Policies

Despite promising trends, Romania receives a comparatively poor overall score (rank 34) in the area of economic policies. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.3 points relative to 2014.

Growth has been strong in recent years, with private consumption, boosted by tax cuts and rising wages, as the primary driver. Investment has picked up as anti-corruption efforts have borne fruit.

Unemployment rates are low in cross-EU comparison, but have stagnated despite strong growth and substantial outmigration. The employment rate is below the EU average, and the share of young people not in employment, education or training is high. Active labor-market policies are not well funded.

VAT rates and dividend taxes have been cut substantially, with economic growth and tax-collection improvements compensating for revenue loss. After successful deficit reductions, fiscal policy has been loosened. A new focus on science and innovation seeks to reverse a brain drain.

Social Policies

With resources scarce, Romania falls into the bottom ranks internationally (rank 39) with respect to social policies. Its score on this measure remains unchanged since 2014.

Education accessibility and quality have become major political issues, with pervasive education-system problems persisting. A bill mandating 12 years of compulsory education, among other changes, was stalled by political maneuvering. Social exclusion remains a major issue, with the Roma minority facing severe discrimination.

The public health-insurance system falls significantly short of universality. Inadequate funding undercuts care quality and equity. While parental-leave benefits are generous, family-policy spending is low overall, and a shortage of affordable child care hampers the work-parenting balance. Women today represent the majority of outward migrants.

Outmigration, aging and a decline in actual retirement ages (despite official increases) threaten the pension system’s sustainability. An influx of migrants is testing the country’s underdeveloped integration mechanisms.

Environmental Policies

Despite struggles with pollution and waste, Romania falls into the upper-middle ranks internationally (rank 17) with regard to its environmental policies. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.2 points relative to 2014.

A range of environmental problems remain insufficiently addressed. Corruption and weak oversight enable illegal logging and resource extraction. Taxes on landfill waste and environmental fines have marginally improved the environmental situation, but also prompt corruption concerns.

Significant corporate and EU funds have been pledged to improve environmental management, raising some hope of improvement.

The country was the first to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, and has transposed EU environmental legislation. However, it does not play an active role in shaping global environmental regimes.



Quality of Democracy

With political polarization and corruption concerns undermining important institutions, Romania falls into the bottom ranks internationally (rank 39) with regard to democracy quality. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.1 point since 2014.

The large diaspora has been allowed to vote by mail. Campaign-finance laws are routinely evaded, with sanctions rare. Public media are susceptible to governmental and parliamentary influence, while private media are biased by owners’ political interests.

Civil rights are generally respected, but court protections are undermined by unpredictably long proceedings. Poor prison conditions remain a problem. A variety of legislative initiatives have raised fears of potential censorship. Discrimination and violence against various groups, including women, Roma and the LGBTQ population remain concerns.

Policymaking is haphazard, relying heavily on government emergency ordinances that undermine legal certainty. The judiciary is becoming more professional and independent. Corruption remains a serious problem.



Executive Capacity

With a number of notable weaknesses, Romania falls into the bottom ranks (rank 39) with regard to executive capacity. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.1 point relative to 2014.

Policymaking has suffered from a lack of strategic planning. The Chancellery evaluates national programs, but no specific unit is responsible for policy evaluation, leaving some ministry proposals insufficiently assessed. While interministerial committees are effective, coordination tends to be led by the ministry initiating a proposal.

RIAs are required, though quality and actual use are highly uneven. Consultation with societal actors has been limited. An ongoing presidential initiative holds hope of improving societal dialogue. Contradictory communications have been common.

The Ponta government accomplished only a portion of its relatively vague policy agenda. Local governments are dependent on discretionary state disbursements that are allocated along partisan lines. Absorption of EU funds has improved.

Executive Accountability

With only a few bright spots, Romania falls into the bottom ranks internationally (rank 39) in the area of executive accountability. After a slight decline last year, its score now represents a gain of 0.3 points relative to 2014.

Individual parliamentarians have minimal resources, but fairly broad formal oversight powers. The national auditor is independent and effective. The ombudsman has had a low profile after a period of instability.

Few citizens are well informed about government policies, due to low-quality news reporting and a general lack of trust in the political system. The largest media organizations are highly partisan, though some media brands provide in-depth information.

Political-party decision-making is quite centralized. Business associations are weak, and unions have not played an active role in policy formulation. Despite a dependence on international financing, a number of NGOs have significant analytical capacities.
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